McDonald’s to Buy Back 225 Franchised Outlets in Israel After Boycotts

McDonalds has said that it will buy back all of its 225 franchised restaurants in Israel, weeks after the company warned that boycotts and protests over the Israel-Hamas war had hurt its business in the Middle East.

The deal, announced on Thursday, would bring all of the stores under the direct management of McDonald’s Corporation. The company did not disclose terms of the deal but said that the chain’s 5,000 workers in Israel would keep their jobs.

The move highlighted the deepening political polarization that multinational corporations face during the war, including claims and counterclaims by activists and companies about what both sides say are disinformation campaigns.

McDonald’s operations in the region slumped when the franchises in Israel, run by Alonyal Limited, began donating thousands of meals to Israeli soldiers after the deadly Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7.

The donations, described at the time by Alonyal as a show of solidarity to support the military and hospital workers, set off boycotts in neighboring countries, and prompted McDonald’s franchises in Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to issue statements distancing themselves from the Israeli franchise.

In Kuwait and Qatar, McDonald’s franchise owners also pledged hundreds of thousands of dollars for relief efforts in Gaza. A hashtag, #BoycottMcDonalds, rallied consumers in the Middle East and other majority-Muslim countries to stay away from the fast-food giant’s chains, accusing it of “supporting genocide” in Gaza.

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